Friday, 19 October 2012

Thoughts on the RACI Matrix project management technique

The RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) matrix is accepted as a best practice tool for management especially in projects. Establishing the matrix is a process at the beginning of a project for the Project Manager. It identifies the people involved with project over different stages, their level of involvement and decision-making.

By using a RACI matrix, as we’ve seen in past blogs, the project manager identifies who, how and how often he/she needs to communicate with the key people who have the power to influence the project. But through its creation, the project manager locks down the people who control the various development stages of the project by defining them and getting them to agree to their responsibility/accountability. This makes the PM’s role clearer. We all recognise terror striking when the person you’ve been dealing with says, ‘I just have to show this to X’. This is what RACI tries to avoid. You deal with the key person at the right times to help smooth decisions in the project.

Sounds convincing, and it has been. That’s why it’s a best practice tool. However, as with all tools, it depends how it is used. Some have found it hard to establish roles and responsibilities when they have not been clearly defined in an organisation prior to the PM asking. The ‘golden’ rule is that there must only be one person accountable for each stage otherwise you can’t get sign-off efficiently. (See Management Study Guide for a list of rules for use, and, David Morris’ blog (6th April 2009) for several more rules and his use of the tool under Agile development processes).

To help when there seems to be too many people without clear responsibilities, some have included ‘S’ for ‘support’ as a role and turned RACI into RASCI. This is explained in IT Toolbox.

We all need to try and streamline our processes to be more efficient and Simplicity recently posted an article from The European Business Review on improving a company’s performance by simplifying organisational structures.

This advocates ‘getting radical’ with RACI matricies so that they are only used at key points, not for everything. We certainly understand the over-complex organisation, the over-involvement of some people in decision-making, the problems a large organisation has making fast decisions and this call here for radicalism in this context. But we’d argue that iMedia projects are serving to move these organisations forward and should be considered key projects since any indecision over any stage of development increases time and cost factors for the organisation. We should point out that RACI in this article is interpreted as Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Involved – yet another variation. It isn’t explained here though.

Do you treat large, medium and small clients differently? If so, in what ways?